Police began a formal investigation on Tuesday into whether England and Chelsea captain John Terry racially abused an opponent, prompting the English Football Association to delay the outcome of its ongoing probe.
Terry has been accused of directing a racial slur at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during Chelsea’s 1-0 Premier League loss on Oct. 23. Video of the incident was posted on the internet after the match.
The Metropolitan Police assessed the incident after a complaint last week and decided it warrants a full investigation.
“Police were notified of an incident on Sunday October 23 involving alleged racial abuse,” police said in a statement. “This is being investigated by officers from Hammersmith and Fulham.”
The FA, investigating the England captain just seven months before the start of the European Championship, will be careful not to hinder the police probe.
“The Metropolitan Police has contacted the FA to make us further aware of their investigation into the matter,” English football’s governing body said in a statement.
“Due to this it would be inappropriate for the FA to comment until the police have completed their own enquiries.”
Ferdinand, who is black, has submitted his account of the incident to the FA and said he has “very strong feelings on the matter.”
The 26-year-old Englishman said he did not want to prejudice the inquiry with a fuller statement until investigations are over. But he has used his Twitter account to re-post messages of support and condemnations of racism.
The 30-year-old Terry, who has not been charged by the FA, has said the alleged comments directed at Ferdinand have been taken out of context.
Terry was kept on the bench throughout Chelsea’s 1-1 draw at Racing Genk on Tuesday night, but fans of the London club were reported to have been chanting about Ferdinand in Belgium
“It is wholly inappropriate and we do not condone it,” Chelsea said.
England coach Fabio Capello will have to decide by Sunday whether to include Terry in the squad for upcoming international friendlies against Spain and Sweden.
Terry regained the England captaincy from Ferdinand’s older brother, Rio Ferdinand, in March after being stripped of the armband before the 2010 World Cup when he was embroiled in a sex scandal.
Claims that Terry had an affair with the former girlfriend of England teammate Wayne Bridge are among a string of off-field transgressions that have followed the player throughout his footballing career, which has been spent entirely at Chelsea.
He was fined by the club after he and three teammates drunkenly abused American guests at a London hotel the day after the September 11 terrorist attacks.